Although Palaeolithic bone retouchers have been the object of both specific and large-scale studies in recent years (work of Auguste, Mallye, Hutson and their collaborators), the percussive stone tools used for knapping actions have only been analyzed from a partial and limited perspective. However, the characterization of the latter as tools for developing knapping techniques in different Prehistoric periods, and more specifically in the Middle Palaeolithic, is crucial. Percussive stone tools are analyzed here according to the physical features (measures, weight and raw material) of the selected blanks (usually cobbles and pebbles) and the percussive action modes recorded on them, as observed in the macroscopic use-wear traces and their location on the tools’ surfaces (referred here as “active zone of percussion” [ZAP]). The direction of use is inferred from these two parameters. Our study is based on the analysis of 12 Middle Palaeolithic assemblages from the Iberian Peninsula. These assemblages are located in sites with different geographical and geological contexts, showing different types of occupational and technological contexts, and comprising different chrono-cultural periods. This exhaustive analysis, including up to 202 percussive tools gathered in a wide geographic and chronological framework, has allowed us to define the factors involved in tool selection, and especially the patterns of use related to technological choices regardless of other factors, such as the lithological context. Our results show that the type of occupation and the knapping technical system were the most determinant factors in the selection and use of percussive stone tools during the Iberian Middle Palaeolithic.
Middle Paleolithic, percussion stone tools, technology, occupation strategies, Iberian Peninsula